Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marriage Tool

It has come to my attention since Christmas Day that Darren and I have found a most effective marriage tool.  We purchased a Wii for the kids for Christmas.  We have had a PlayStation 2 up until this point and although I do think the Lego games are adorable, nothing can touch the place in my heart that is especially for Mario Bros.  I remember that game with fondness from my youth....mainly because it was the only game I really "got".  I understood what was going on in Mario...you have levels to complete and then move forward.  Not like the aimless wandering that goes on in some games.  Anyway, along with the Wii, I decided to purchase the *ahem* ... KIDS the game Super Mario Bros.  It will be my downfall.  No longer do I anxiously await the kids' bedtime so I can read more deeply about Cleopatra...no more wishing the TV would disappear so the kids wouldn't be consumed with desiring some PlayStation action.  No - that's not how it is at all now.  As a matter of fact, Darren and I were up until almost 1 last night playing my ...I mean the kids' ...Mario game.  :D  Which is where the marriage tool comes in.  After playing a few levels, glaring at each other, blaming each other for losing a life - or not getting the fire-spit inducing mushroom - or falling off the cliff - or whatever misfortune befell us ...  it occurred to me that Mario is an excellent tool for learning to get along in the face of adversity.  And in the moment of victory, when you've beaten Bowser and Mario and Luigi are standing in triumph and you realize that you, as a couple, beat his socks off - together - you forgive one another for all the times the other made you make a mistake and you move along ....to continuance number 25.  :D   (Well, you mostly forgive each other.....  )

Christmas Eve Adventure

When you think of Christmas Eve, what activities come to mind?  Maybe getting together with your family, going to see Christmas lights, last minute shopping......  Those are the type of things most people associate with Christmas Eve.  My husband and I... and Malachi... spent a most memorable time outside this year.  To begin the story, a few weeks ago, we purchased a used wood stove.  We had some wood cut for the fireplace but did not have enough to be able to heat the house via wood alone.  Darren decided that we should go out in our woods, find some fallen pines, cut them up, and haul them to the house on the back of his old farm truck.  He backed his truck into the woods and we got to work.  Darren cut the pines with his chainsaw and split the pieces...Malachi and I toted stacks of wood and threw them on the back of the truck.  I noticed that the truck was sitting in a rather soggy spot and asked Darren if he thought the truck would be able to come out of there once the back was weighted down.  He assured me it would.  (chuckle)  We worked for about an hour and a half and finally the truck bed was laden fully with fuel for the wood stove.  Malachi and I stand back, admire our hard work, and wait for the truck to make its way out of the woods.  Darren cranks the truck, puts it in gear and ....  hmmm.....it spins.  He tries reverse and drive, reverse and drive...rocking that truck like a child's toy....but to no avail.  (Jacob used to have a favorite book called "Rotten Luck, My Truck is Stuck"...it immediately came to mind here)  Anyway, he decides to go get the tractor and pull his truck out.  Guess who gets to sit behind the wheel of the truck and spin mud???  Yeah me!!  HaHa....  He hooks the tractor up to the truck and commences to pulling and tugging.  I'm spinning mud (which I secretly enjoy) and the tractor is pulling as hard as it can, nose up in the air.  That fact caused me some discomfort...just didn't look safe.  He assured me that the scrape blade on the back would keep him from tipping over.  I wasn't totally convinced.  The truck wasn't really moving much.  He brought out the "come along"... this was pretty much a foreign tool to me up until this point :D  He hooked one side to the truck and one to the tree and we tried again....  me hitting the gas and him cranking.   The truck was majorly stuck.  He got back on the tractor and told me to keep hitting the gas...I was spinning like a mad dog, the tires were smoking, and ....the truck was stuck.  Darren then informed me that if I floored the gas (like I was doing) and the truck suddenly achieved traction, it would lunge forward and run all over him.  Great...now I'm thinking if we do succeed, I could kill him with the victory.  Nice....  Well, to move along, the come along ended up snapping and we went in the house.....and left the truck in the muck.  Two days later, help showed up in the form of other *men* and a bigger come along.  That was AFTER Darren unloaded the wood off the truck - back into the woods.  What a lesson in futility.  I look back on the event with two viewpoints.  One being that sometimes it just seems like there's an awful lot of work involved with the life we've chosen.  I mean, good grief, we could just go in and turn on the heat and relax ...  go see some Christmas lights...read a book....sit by an aesthetically pleasing fire that doesn't heat the entire house but looks pretty ... but no, we spend all stinking day toting firewood that in the end, gets tossed back off the truck to its natural abode.  The other viewpoint is that sometimes working together bonds people.  The time spent in actively pursuing a common goal sets you side by side emotionally and mentally.  You can look back on the event and it is a shared experience...common ground...to be built upon by each new "adventure".  Plus, it makes for some good stories  :)  

Yep, we've got some wood on that truck....

Cranking up the old come along

Rotten Luck, My Truck is Stuck


Nibble, nibble little mouse....

We have never got around to making a gingerbread house.  That all changed this year.  I bought a kit at Wal-Mart,  and figured I'd step back and let the kids do the majority of the work/fun.  Malachi squeezed the icing out on the roof and the party began....for Isaac anyway :)  The more icing and candy that appeared, the faster his little fingers worked.  He had a toothpick and swiped the icing off the roof as quickly as they could smooth it down.  I found it all immensely entertaining.  They were trying to work together to get it accomplished, Isaac was eating as fast as he could, they were trying to get the candy on the house before it was all eaten (all the while wanting a bite for themselves), and Isaac pouting because he was made to stop licking icing off the roof.  It turned out beautiful!  Sarah even added a dancing gingerbread girl she had made a couple of nights before.

Working Together

Isaac's Contribution - A Finger Swipe - Yummy!

Almost Finished

No More Icing??

Why Can't I Have Any More???

The Finished Product - Complete with Dancing Gingerbread Girl  :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

To the Doctor ...and again....and again.....

The last few weeks have been so busy.  
It all began when I took Isaac for his scheduled immunizations.  While there (of course I had all four children with me), it was brought to my attention that Malachi and Jacob were missing a few updated shots.  Nice....  So, I figured I'd get them all a seasonal flu shot and schedule a visit for the boys.  Unbeknownst to me, if you don't bring your child in for a couple of years, their file gets placed in storage and they are no longer in the system.   The nurse came back and everyone was all tense and ready to get the needle.   She then informs me that Malachi is no longer a patient there and I'll have to bring him back as a new patient to even get the flu vaccine.  Bummer.  Everyone but him got the shot.  Sooooo, I make Malachi and Jacob a well check visit appointment.  I bring Malachi back on the scheduled day ...again, I have all four children with me.  I suspected that Sarah had pink eye and wanted to get it confirmed and get a prescription.  We all go in and Malachi is tense, but ready to finally get his shots.  The nurse asks if he is having any problems....I say "No, just a sore throat"  ...she says, "Let me check him for strep to be sure."  The test comes back positive.  He has strep.  NO shots...again.  Poor guy.  They work Sarah in as we are sitting there  (so I can be charged for two visits instead of one, of course....I mean how hard would it be to just look at her eyes and call me in a prescription????....but, whatever....)  Anyway, she had double pink eye.  So, we left and went to Wal-Mart to get antibiotics filled.  That was on a Thursday.  Saturday morning, Isaac woke up and started screaming and holding his right ear.  So, knowing I could do nothing for that except Tylenol, I made him an appointment.  Good thing too, because he was diagnosed with both and ear infection and strep throat.  Oh goody, more antibiotics.  So, he gets started on his as Malachi and Sarah are continuing theirs.  Meanwhile, Jacob and Sarah are coughing repeatedly at night.  I tried vapor rub on the bottoms of their feet, cough syrup, and the vaporizer.  Guess which one helped??  None.  Okay, in the midst of this, my little Isaac who had been attempting to use the potty was no longer doing so...the antibiotics were messing with his system.  He now had diarrhea..  imagine my excitement.  I went through an entire tube of Balmex...with him screaming all the while.  Finally, a friend suggested Butt Paste. I thought it was helping after the first application.  I was sadly mistaken.  Ended up taking him back to the doctor to confirm what I already figured...he had a yeast infection.  Another prescription ~ yeah!  I asked her while I was there if I couldn't just use an over the counter yeast medication in the future.  That turned out to be helpful information.  I went through the yeast prescription and had to buy some over the counter to totally eradicate his infection.  Finally, we are through that whole ordeal....no strep, no pink eye, no antibiotics, no yeast infection....whew!  :)  You would think my story ends - Happily Ever After - here, wouldn't you?  It was not to be so.  I took Malachi back for his second visit to get the elusive shots.  He is once again, ready but tense.  We arrive...(they actually did me a favor and scheduled Malachi and Jacob's appointments on the same day and the same time....had to have Darren to meet me in case they went in different rooms...which they didn't ....which makes me believe I should've received a discount...but anyway....)  They both have their check-up and have their eyes and ears checked and settle in to wait for the nurse to come back and give the shots.  During this time, Darren leaves to go back to work.  I'm waiting with the boys and Sarah and the nurse arrives.  The boys decide that Malachi can go first.  He sits up on the table and mentally prepares.  He ends up getting the flu mist and two shots.  I help him down and notice his eyes start rolling around and he's groaning.  He starts slumping to the floor and my panic begins to set in.  (Okay, I have to tell you that as his head is going in circles and his eyes are rolling it looked like one of those cartoons where the character gets thumped with something and he groans and his head and eyes do exaggerated rolls and you see the stars swirling above their noggin...I had a fleeting thought that he was being funny....this all happened in a matter of seconds tho...his actions, my thoughts, his slumping....)  At any rate, he falls on the floor unmoving...I'm freaking.   Then he abruptly sits up and says, "I gotta get my shots"....as we are both trying to lie him back down, he goes limp, then gets stiff, his eyes roll back and he is looking like he's having a seizure.  Okay, I really freaked...the nurse didn't seem to be doing a whole lot better....I was saying over and over..."maybe you should go get someone"...  finally, he seems to limber up a bit and go into the pass out stage again.  She gets a chair and puts his feet up and he seems to be coming around.  At this point, she gets a doctor.  He comes in and Malachi is finally coming around.  Says that happens sometimes...not often mind you...but sometimes.  He said I needed to remember that in the future when he has shots.  (Like I could possibly forget to mention that)  At this moment, I realized I had lost visual on my other three children.  Jacob was huddled in a corner in a panic - remember, he is supposed to get his shots next...poor guy.  Sarah was hiding in terror out in the hall.  Isaac was hovering over Malachi saying "better now!"  in a more demanding than concerned voice.  The nurse put Malachi in a chair and sent for crackers and coke.  He sat there a few seconds and nearly passed out again....back on the floor with propped up feet he went.  Finally, he had to get back on the table and after checking his pulse and blood pressure, he was pronounced okay and it was time for Jacob's shots.  Can you imagine the poor child's terror???  He just watched his older, in control brother, get shots, pass out and have a seizure.  He panicked.  I felt so sorry for him.  He was holding onto me for dear life, all signs of "I"m all grown up and don't need my mommy" pretense shed.    He fingers clenched my arms in desperation...tears poured down his nine year old face and I could feel his fear.  They gave him his two shots and thank the good Lord in heaven his were uneventful.  I've never been so glad to leave the doctor's office.   Whew....my heart rate just accelerated in merely retelling the story.  Malachi is supposed to go back now that he has turned 11 and get his Tetanus and Meningitis.....  none of us are looking forward to it.......

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pickled Peppers

We picked Banana, Jalapenos and Chili Peppers all the way into November! We thought we'd pickle some with onions and garlic.  Usually, I can't eat Jalapenos canned because they are just too hot.  These are really good though!  Well, the Jalapenos are...I haven't got up the nerve to try a Chili Pepper.  I figure I'll mainly use those for chili and salsa.  They are so pretty in the jar....love the homey look.

We also hung some Chili Peppers up to dry.  Adds a nice fiesta flair, don't cha think???  :)

Who Needs a Toy Box...

...when you wear a onesie?  Isaac has taken to stuffing his shirt with all his toys.  It's too funny.

Stuffing the shirt....

Look at all these treasures you hide in your shirt!!  :)  This the actual toys, crayons, and letters he had stuffed in his shirt!  LOL!

The Axe Murderer

Would like to thank my husband for this display of holiday cheer.  He borrowed an axe from the boys' Lego collection and not only cut the tree down but his snowman friend as well....sigh.  Sarah and I live in a house of deranged testosterone.

You Might Be A Redneck If....

You hook two ladders together with a couple o' sticks and make one big ole one....

The Rope

"If I can just hook this here rope to this here tractor, that ladder won't go anywhere!"  LOL!!!

The Contraption...

I must admit, I felt like Sanford saying, "This is the big one Elizabeth" when I saw him up there.  Good grief...But it worked and the barn boards went up safely. 

Barn Completion!!

Wow!!  The outside of the barn is completed...except for the doors.  Man, it's so darn cool.  I love it.  Darren did a superb job if I do say so myself.  :)  I will proceed to post pics of him in the process of putting the boards at the top....which is 20' up...which is longer than any ladder we have.  Very interesting contraption he put together to accomplish his goal...interesting and dangerous!!

Co-King of the Barnyard

One of the two renegade roaming roosters.  I think he looks rather majestic perched atop his lookout. Love his impressive tail feathers...

Double Yolked...

You know those plump hens I was telling you about?  I sold the poor things short...well, at least one of them.  I went into the pen and lo and behold, there was an egg!  Color me a surprised farm girl!!  It was pretty big too!  I figure maybe that had to do something with why they never lay...a behemoth egg like that could cause damage...LOL.  Anyway, we brought it in and marveled over it and took a picture of it beside a normal large egg.  When I fried it for supper, we discovered that it was double yolked. 
The rest of the story is that all those chickens are now gone.  I will spare you the details.  We have several in the freezer and the rest....well, that's another story for another day.  We still have our laying hens, banty chickens, and a couple of renegade roosters roaming the yard.  And I'm good with that....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Wonder...

I've been reminded of the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of my children recently.  They were so excited to get our tree for this year.  We have always had a real one.  Some were purchased and perfect - like this year's.  Some we cut down in our woods and were of the Charlie Brown persuasion.  There was the one my husband cut from the top of a pine....I think there was a foot gap between each of the four circles of branches.  There was also the one that Malachi and I decided to chop down a couple of years ago.  It was getting close to Christmas and we didn't have a tree.  The kids and I decided to find one ourselves.  We are surrounded by forest so we assumed it would be no problem picking one out.  Boy, where we in for a surprise!  We looked and looked and finally realized none of them looked even close to the ones sold on a Christmas tree lot.  Regardless, we chose a tree that we thought would suffice.  However, the tree forked about five inches from the ground so we decided to just take one side.  (I question that logic in hindsight)  
Malachi and I chopped in shifts...eventually we felled the tree.   We were all so excited as we twisted and tugged and managed to get it into the house and in the tree stand.  There was no question which side to turn to the back....it would be the innermost side of the fork...the side that had no branches.  Looking at the bright side tho, it fit nicely up against the wall :)  Imagine our dismay when we noticed that the side sporting branches had a gaping bare spot!!  Luckily, we knew of a tree with identical branches ....  the other side of the fork LOL!  We quickly went outside, did a bit more chopping, and came inside with a branch bearing matching DNA.  We tied it to the trunk of our tree with twine and VOILA!!  Perfect!....well, mostly :)  We were once again smiling ...We decorated that poor little tree and were pleased with our results. 
So, as we picked out our perfect tree this year, Malachi and I agreed that while perfect trees are conducive to ornament hanging, the imperfect ones give us sweet memories and a good story!!!!  :D
(I'll look for a photo of that tree tomorrow and post it here)

Thanksgiving 2009

My oldest, Malachi, loves Thanksgiving...you'd think I never make a homemade meal the way he's so excited about the food!  
Our Thanksgiving Day consisted of some chicken riddance.  We had decided that our ultra-plump chickens had to go.  They were getting so big they couldn't get off the ground to roost so they were losing breast feathers from all the ground contact...and looking quite nasty.  I don't mind the whole process of raising your own chickens to eat, but I refuse to butcher and partake of a dirty looking fowl :)   I let them out of their pens, in anticipation of their coming demise, to do a little free-ranging.  We decided not to purchase a turkey for Thanksgiving what with all the poultry polluting the yard - soooooo Thanksgiving day, Darren got a fire going to boil water for feather release.  He and the kids chose the biggest, most plump, cleanest chicken on the farm.  I had awakened sick that morning and void my senses of smell and taste.  Can you believe that???  No taste on Thanksgiving Day!!
Anyway, my Mother-in-Law and Father-in-Law showed up at the commencing of the "ceremony".  Due to my illness, I didn't really get too involved.  The first chicken, a rooster, was plucked, cleaned, and sent inside to begin its glorification :)  Now let me just insert a little info in here...this chicken was HUGE!  He weighed 12 lbs (that was after plucking and cleaning)  It was like having a turkey!  With him in the oven, Darren began the drill on the second chicken (another rooster)...  He too, was left whole with skin intact and put in the cooler.  We read online that in order to prevent the chicken from becoming tough, not to take them directly from killing to freezer.  They suggested bringing the body temperature down slowly by keeping it in ice water for 24 hrs.  So, in the cooler of ice water he went.  They next and last chicken of the day we decided should be skinned and cut up.  My MIL shared that in the beginning of her marriage, she would buy whole chickens because they were cheaper and cut them up herself.  She volunteered to show me how to do it.  The lesson began...  Her first reaction was amazement at the size!  (Yeah, baby...that's home grown...hehe)  Anyway, we started with the thigh and lower leg.  The leg ended up looking like a turkey drumstick...I kid you not...I didn't take pics so I can't prove it...but oh yeah...it was huge!!  Next went the wings and then the breast.  She told me that when she purchased one, she cut it into two pieces and just cracked the breast bone.  That wasn't happening with this one....we both tried breaking that darn bone...tried sawing it....nothing...ended up cutting it into four pieces and just taking it off the bone.  
By this time the roasting chicken was done.  The other dishes were made to go with it.  I was told the meal was tasty - I couldn't confirm due to the absence of my taste and smell... :(

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Preacher's Kid: 101

Isn't it strange when contemplating preachers' children?  I often find myself pondering things and attempting to find some rhyme or reason for the flow of things.  I am a preacher's kid - a PK.  Those of you who aren't PKs already have a preconceived notion on how you view us as a whole.  Those of you who carry the title PK have your own view and usually feel an instant camaraderie with other PKs.  You know of the "fish bowl" life.  You know how always you were/are expected to perform above par because even non-preacher families feel their children and their behavior are a reflection of the parental "aptitude".  For PKs, this performance is significantly higher - because not only are the parents trying to prove they are good parents emotionally and physically, but we add spiritually to that as well - and a rebellious, heathen child can really destroy that for you.
Aside from the "fish bowl" aspect, there's knowing that family life and church life are somehow both one and the same and totally disconnected - simultaneously.  They are the same in that no matter what the family is doing, church and the people have an open invite to call, show up, be admitted to the hospital and need the pastor, have a concern, need a friend, call to gossip, or just call to complain because somebody took their pew.  Now don't get me wrong, I love church folks, I really do.  And there are times when the pastor is truly needed.  But growing up, there were those times when the church felt like clouds when the sun was trying to shine through.  The sun could shine and warm all day, and there was always the one or two more clouds to take care of.  On the other hand, church life and family life was totally disconnected.  If our family went through a difficult time, it was kept under wraps - we could fume at home but once we hit the church steps, the plastic smiles were pulled out of our pockets and pasted on.   We were the preacher's family darn it - we were the epitome of a perfect family.  We were all shiny and clean on the outside and festering or crying on the inside.  But we were not to let that show.  The pastor's family is there for others' needs...we deal with our own in privacy.

As time passes, Pks grow up.  It is then that the pressure intensifies.  People are curious to see if PKs will rebel or if they'll perform to a higher standard - and PKs are aware of this judging...don't kid yourself into thinking they aren't.  If a child from a church family goes astray, it is considered a tragedy.  If a PK goes astray, it is considered catastrophic and worthy of a lengthy gossip circle. 

Some PKs have had enough by this time.  They've endured the sacrifice and felt the reward was wanting.   In their dismay, they simply fall away.
Some PKs have felt the "performance" ropes so tightly that as soon as they have the strength they pop them loose completely and totally rebel.  
Others feel the pressure and still feel the need to perform.  They do all that's expected, be everything to everyone, and yet never feel enough.
Some settle into a church and seem to make the transition from Pk to just another family.

What you have to understand about Pks is that they KNOW church.  PKs know how to act, dress, talk, walk - yet they are constantly viewing all sorts of people and church situations.  They see church splits, church gossips, church indecencies.  They see their own family hurts, wounds, and anger smothered under a facade of perfection.  PKs know what people say vs what people do.  That knowledge weighs a lot.  It has to be reckoned with....and each Pk reckons differently.  Now I'm not saying all Pks live a miserable life...not at all....there are blessings and highlights.  I'm just giving you non-Pks  some insight and letting my fellow PKs know that I got your back :) 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

After the initial shock wore off, I think Darren really "took a shine" to my new feathers :D

Love My Girl...

The Lash Club

In order of appearance:
My friend Renee', her daughter Emma, my daughter Sarah, and I

Intro ....The Lashes... :D

We had to have our party a week after Halloween due to an illness.  While looking around WalMart, I found that all the Halloween merchandise was 75% off!! Yeah!  The family we share this fellowship with has a little girl Sarah's age.  I decided to get both moms and daughters some cool lashes to play with.  I was excited!! :D  I've never even attempted to put any on, so I couldn't wait to see if they worked!!!  They were so much fun!  The girls had matching blue and silver and the moms were bedecked in blue and purple feathered lashes....  We had a ball!!

Eyeball Punch

Punch Recipe:

One 2-liter Ginger Ale
One 2-liter Sprite
One container Lime Sherbet
One can of Pineapple Juice
One package of Lime Kool-Aid

This punch is AWESOME!! ...with or without the eyeballs!  :) LOL

Boiling Cauldron Cake

We have a little party every year with a fellow homeschool family around Halloween.  It's nothing really but an excuse to make creative snacks and let the kids play.  :)  This is the cake I made for this year..It's a boiling cauldron filled with all kinds of bugs and fingers and eyes...gummy, of course :)  

Blast From the Past

We always take the kids to a trunk or treat or two for Halloween.  I do not buy costumes for this...  I make something.  Last year, I made cloaks so they could be characters from Star Wars.  This year, they decided to wear their colonial outfits we've been slowly working on.   We did get around to making the paper mache powder horns and spray painting tin band-aid containers to make ammunition boxesThe two older ones looked so cute...er, I suppose they would rather I said ...frontiersman like.  Sarah wore her colonial dress and we even hooked her up with the grain bucket so she'd have a lunch pail.  She looked darling.  I didn't make anything for Isaac, so I decided to use what we had.  Jeans, red checked shirt, an old holster and gun, and a cowboy hat....talk about a good looking cowboy.  Darren painted a mustache and beard on him and the look was complete!!  Oh, and Isaac pulled his gun out several times and let it be known he was no tenderfoot....H@!  Just looking at these pictures makes me smile.  I am so thankful that God chose to bless me with these children.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Beauty at Ground Level...

How cool is this ....fungus?  Such a negative sounding word for such a beautiful piece of creation.   It looks like a colorfully swirled skirt for a wood fairy....

My Very Talented Carpenter

The front of the barn is looking great!!  It nearly makes me want to live in the barn and abandon my house.  It's just so rustic and natural looking.  I love it.  And I must mention that I find the carpenter quite attractive as well...good thing he's mine....  :D

And The Barn Work Commences....

Darren has been faithfully working on the barn every chance he gets.  This is a picture of the beautiful floor he created.  I did drive a few nails, but then we've already gone over that haven't we? :)  Oh, and have you ever been in any of those old school rooms or churches (like in Cades Cove)?  When you walk across the floor, they sound sturdy and hollow....that's how the floor sounds!  I love it!  And on some of the pieces of wood where it has the round place where a knot was? ...well, when the sun is shining and you're standing on the inside of the room, the rings around the knot look like they are a translucent red color...it's gorgeous! 
 I think it is looking amazing!  I love the way the boards overlap and fit perfectly together on the siding.   The man truly has talent and know-how.
He did ask me again to help him out.  I walked over to where he was waiting for me...with the hammer!  He had a piece of wood in place with several nails sticking in it.  He asked me to nail them in.  I started nailing and they went in like a breeze!  I was so excited!    I asked him if he saw how quickly those nails went in.  He looks at me with a tired look and said "Just so you know, those holes were predrilled."   Yeah, I guess the nails already sticking in the holes should've given that away...I was crushed.  But I quickly recovered and moved on :D

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vietnam Veteran (aka My Dad) Update

My dad finally was able to get a Prostate biopsy last Monday.  A couple of days later, he began to run a fever and feel horrible...chills, shaking, increased heart rate.  He finally went back to the VA on Friday to find out that he has a blood infection, compliments of the biopsy.  He remains in the hospital until Wednesday or Thursday.  He did get the results of biopsy and they confirmed that he does have cancer.  Please keep him in your prayers. 

Also, my grandmother, who was diagnosed with lymphoma, began her next to the last chemo treatment this week.  We are praying that when they give her the scan, the cancer will have been destroyed and she will be declared "CANCER FREE"!

Barn Raisin'

Darren has decided to take off work this week ~ no big vacation planned.  We're just going to stay around the farm and get some things done.
He's been working on the barn off and on for the last several days.  Saturday he had to take a pick axe to the rock bank behind the barn to level it off some.  Yesterday, he decided to work on putting the floor in on one side.  Sarah and I had to run a few errands and when we returned, Darren requested my help.   
Okay, just so you know...I have no carpentry, construction, hammering, etc skills.  So, he was going to hold the board tight up against the other while I hammered the nail into the floor joist.   Well, it all sounds easy enough on paper...er, in typing.  He's pulling back on his lever thingy and says "Now...hammer the nail in"...The hammer makes contact with the nail ~ Wow..I'm impressed with my skills.  However, the rebellious nail suddenly takes a quick swerve to the left.  I blush and begin tapping it back up straight...Darren is calm.  I hit again and make a good hard knock straight down.  Okay, I have it now ~ I can do this!  I hit again and the obnoxious nail once again veers the wrong way.  I duck my head against the exasperated look and tap the nail back into position.  Another knock and the nail head is now bent and going the wrong way again.  So I laugh...what else is there to do?  When face to face with your inadequacy, just try again and laugh it off....  Only I"m laughing alone...Darren is shaking his head...and still pulling on the lever,  mind you.  I finally get the nail to become flush with the board.  Victory at Last!!!  Why don't I feel triumphant??  Hmmm...
We move to the next board.  I am once again manning the hammer :)  So as to avoid holding you in suspense, I will tell you that yes, the story for this nail follows much the same outline as the last nail.  We continue on and it occurs to me that Darren has already begun hammering!! What???  Is he doing my job?   He mutters something about just getting the next couple of nails in quickly.  Wonder if that had anything to do with my hammering speed??  To make a long story short, I bent a couple more nails, and finally he grimaced and asked he if I could just go get him some water.  Well, yeah, I think I can handle that :)

And just as a follow-up, he did finish the floor and it is beautiful.  I love it!  I'd really like to put a wood stove in it and make it my Little Prairie school room but for some reason he's not going for it.....  I'll post a picture of the floor soon.  

Today you are You
that is truer than true
There is no one alive
who is youer than You!

Words of wisdom from Dr. Seuss

Friday, October 23, 2009

My 8 yr old Photographer

Jacob is developing a serious photography eye!  I love it!  On our trip to Stone Mtn, he took as many pics as I did...a lot of them were impressive.  I love how a camera makes you really look at things...makes you see the entire expanse of nature and in the next breath focuses you in on the smallest details.  Jacob is kinda like that in life too.  He likes the big picture...likes things to be fair...but he also sees others' hurts ...I have so many times seen him comfort Sarah or Isaac in their sorrow or pain.  I've also seen him talk a frustrated, perfectionist Malachi out of an emotional storm.  Jacob is like a camera lens...zooming out to see the whole picture, and zooming in to be concerned about people's feelings.  What an amazing little boy!

Into the Secret Garden....

Julian Price Park
Blue Ridge Parkway


Amazing that the plant that produces those long, spiny, green okra pods
also produces this lush flower....function AND beauty :)

My exuberant Isaac saying "YES!" 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farm Update

Our little farm is now chugging out a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs every other day!!! Woo-hoo for some self-sufficient living!!  :D

My morning chores go pretty quickly...
I start out feeding and watering our two little bucks.  They are coming of age and starting to have the strong aroma that I am positive is only attractive to them.  They are also the loudest protestors of a hungry belly.  I had been only giving them one bucket of water every morning, but I noticed they were bickering over that one.  One would stick his head into the bucket and quench his thirst while the other stood, dry mouthed and anxious.  The second in line decided to start butting the bucket in attempts to get his brother to get a move on.  This only resulted in a tipped bucket and more work for me. So, problem solved by two buckets..no more fighting over the water. 
Next come the chickens...The first pen holds my favorite poultry.  California Whites reside together..they earn their keep...popping out fresh eggs daily.  They seem to have some measure of intelligence...well, for chickens.  They are happy to see their yellow grain and brown pellets showered into the feeding trough. 
The next pen holds my least favorite on the farm.  Chickens like these are only good for one thing...eating.  They are ultra plump, slow, and seemingly dimwitted.  When I come near with the tasty morsels, they only have one thing on their minds....feasting.  It doesn't matter if they step on each other, get their toe stuck under the door, trip over one another...it doesn't faze them...they have blinders on to all else but my bucket of glorious grain.  They've never laid the first egg....but the two we had a couple of weeks ago sure were tasty..so I continue to feed them and put up with their passive natures.  We put two California White roosters in the pen with these ladies...hehe...I get a good laugh every morning...with all those plump, hungry hens, the roosters take a backseat at the breakfast table.  Those girlies don't let anyone get between them and the vittles....  :) 
The third pen holds my arch nemeisis banty rooster (I still must share that story) and three banty hens.  These chickens are housed in a mobile pen so there's no going in to feed them...just open the top and deliver the goods. 
After getting water for the pens, the chickens are happy for the moment. 
I make my way back to the goats and I am on the home stretch.  I fill their bucket with water while enjoying my view of the early morning sun shining through the tall pines.  Annie, the milker, is so trained now that she waits at the gate and willingly walks up onto the milking stand.  Sugar, the non-milker at the moment, is content to stay inside and be allowed to eat her breakfast in peace. 
The farm kittens have a huge affinity for fresh goat milk...they follow me to the milking stand every morning...I literally have to fight them off in order to have a clean milking facility.  However, Malachi's persistent, sleek kitten - Ruth, insists on deftly leaping up onto the stand the moment I start the first warm streams of creamy milk into their bowl.  I don't want to get kitten cooties on my hand while milking..it isn't sanitary :) so, I let her stick her little feline head into her bowl and slurp away while I try to miss hitting her with milk.  By the time I have squeezed a fair amount of milk for the kittens, her black fur is matted down in little grooves and dripping white liquid. 
Once I have sat the bowl down for the kittens to have their fill, I am able to continue with the milking....Annie stands patiently, munching on her grain, and warily eyeing the kittens...they make her most anxious...those little bouncing balls of fur and motor noises...
Milking is finished!! Time to put Annie back in the fenced in area, clean up my milking location, and go check for any early eggs. 
If at this time, it is obvious that the pens/coops need some fresh hay, yours truly sees that the animals have a sanitary, clean abode.  For one, I don't like slipping and sliding in a two inch layer of ....shall we say "waste" ...especially after a good rain mucks it all up.  Two, I can't abide the thoughts of eating a chicken that looks dirty.  Based on this, I take up my rake bound by duty and desire... :)  Plus, it's really good, cheap physical exercise... LOL!  No lie...I can come in and have my cappuccino and creamer (don't laugh) and not feel guilty about all those calories. Yeah!!

I Am That Vagrant

We were on the way to church Sunday and passed a vagrant.  As we passed, I saw him through different eyes....I saw him as a mirror of myself.  How strange to realize that we all share the same base desires...it doesn't matter who we are.   
A CEO on Wall Street has the same desires that this vagrant has....the vagrant has the same desires that a Christian has.  Hmmm....isn't that an unusual thought?
We share physical desires:  food, clothing, shelter, sex, and touch.  We share emotional desires:  love, acceptance, peace, assurance, happiness, justice, and contentment.  We share spiritual desires:  a sense of purpose, meaning, connectiveness, peace, and belonging to something greater. 
I think what determines how our lives end up is the fervency in which we pursue the various desires.  Love leads us to date, seek out a mate, and eventually to marriage.  Love may also lead us on a never-ending journey for what doesn't exist.  Acceptance sometimes leads us to adopt different lifestyles or personalities.  A thirst for justice can take you many places...maybe in a job to enact justice for all - or a lifelong, detrimental hunger for revenge.  Sex can be found in the safe sanctity of marriage or in a dangerous emotional and physical need outside of marriage.  Its amazing how these desires can lead us so many places ....and it's strange to think we are all pursuing the same things, in different degrees, in various ways, to a plethora of ends.  When we pass a homeless man, we are the same.  When we watch TV and see the actors, we are the same.  When we see the addict, the drunk, the mom, the coach, the businessman, the teenager....we are looking into a mirror...Yes, the choices and pursuit may vary, but the base desires? ...we all have that in common. 
How very strange to see the vagrant through those eyes ~  To see that we are the same.  Makes me contemplate how I think about others...make me contemplate my choices and pursuits....makes me contemplate what desires lead people to their end. 

A Little Praise Goes a Long Way

Monday it was beautiful so we decided to go outside and finally make our paper mache powder horns.  I enjoyed working alongside my kids.  (I made Isaac his own powder horn...not that he particularly cares at this point, but I enjoy crafting and rarely find time lately to scrapbook....)  Anyway :)  ...  They were so funny as they laughed and cracked jokes together.  While the horns were drying, an impromptu game of football broke out.  Not the knock-you-down, tackle the breath out of you kind...just mainly kicking, throwing, and catching.  I have always LOVED playing that!!  For some reason, I totally can get into playing football...long as you don't hurt me...which has happened...being that I have two brothers and grew up in a neighborhood of boys....But I am chasing rabbits again....  For the first time in such a long time, I actually felt...FREE!!  I wasn't worried about all those things on my to-do list and I didn't feel all my projects "calling" me.  I just felt in the moment.  It was divine.  Jacob was beginning to really get the hang of kicking, and Malachi?  Well, Malachi (my 10 year old) effectively tripped me and knocked me on my backside.  He was most impressed with his skill.  :)  I commented that he was getting much stronger and he was going to have to take it easy on the girls.  He literally beamed...it was beautiful.  It has been made plain to me over and again what words of praise can do for our children.  It propels them forward like nothing else.  Praise makes them reach upward to the height of our expectations.  After I commented on his strength, I noticed he started picking up Sarah and swinging her around...making her giggle.  At one point, he caught the ball and since Sarah had not been able to catch the last several, Malachi reached over and handed her the ball...without her asking.  I commented that not only was he getting stronger but also more kind and that made for a dynamic duo!  Again, he beamed and was extra careful to be gentle with Sarah when racing her to catch the ball.  It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon...one in which I was able to observe, commend, and thank God for my blessings....

Friday, October 16, 2009

My new favorite quote:

"There are generations yet unborn, whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take".....Andy Andrews

Wow...is that sobering or what?  Our actions today not only influence us and those around us, but those yet to come...kinda makes you think...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who Am I?

My current favorite song...the concept is amazing...it is unbelievable that He thinks of me...and loves me.


Finding God at Church...

Have you ever contemplated the purpose of church?  We've all heard the verse admonishing us to "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together"...  

My husband and I have many times been in the situation where church = busyness.   Several years ago, we were church searching.  We visited a church on a Wednesday night and only a short time later, felt we should join.  Within no time, we were stuck in all available slots...Sunday School, Children's Church, Awana on Wednesday night, the Nursery, and even the Missions Project.  I can remember going to church several times and never hearing a sermon.  Is that the purpose of church??  Do we need to be so busy with doing things that we never have a chance to "be still and know that I am God"?  

Even now, Darren has been preaching every Sunday for my dad, I am helping in Sunday School, we sing in the choir, and there is the Christmas Play starting up.  Why do I sometimes find myself resenting all these things??  And why, if you are not involved with numerous church activities, do you feel guilty and like you aren't pulling your weight?  

Where is the balance in serving and worshiping?    

And to add to that, sometimes its just the atmosphere as a whole.  Before church begins, things such as dinners, and meetings, and events are discussed.  Have you ever realized that the service has begun and you are still thinking about your calendar for the week...what night each event is taking place, what dish you need to bring to the dinner, what craft or snack items you need to remember to bring for Sunday School...and before you know it, the sermon is nearly finished and you've not taken time to listen and be fed.  It's sad.  It makes me contemplate the purpose of church.  Sometimes it makes me wonder why we bother.  Does that sound like a heathen?   Well, I am a Christian ..and I have these thoughts.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to walk into church...straight in a one-room church...sit down and breathe...smile at a fellow parishoner..and then close your eyes...and breathe.  As you sit, you begin to hear faint strains of music...simple music...filling God's house.  There are no meetings, no events, no to-do lists...you are sitting in God's house and you are here to hear Him.  You wash your mind of trivial matters, you meditate on your heart and where it stands with Him....you maybe have a moment of prayer...fellowship with God Almighty....  A man of God stands and with all joking aside, reads to you from the Bread of Life...reads words that all eternity hinge upon...it is Holy.  You are not immersed in worldy thoughts...but concentrate on Him.  A gentle hymn is sung ...your heart soars with rapture, or quakes in conviction..but either way, it is on thoughts of Him.

Would this give us strength to go out and witness to others...to have a chance to be so filled ourselves that we have it running over to others?  In the story of  Mary and Martha, Martha was serving.  What we all think we must continually do, she was doing.  Yet, Jesus wanted Mary to stay at His feet.  He knows that we need time with Him...without always doing.......Why do we insist on feeling productive and useful only in busyness??  Why do we assemble ourselves together and forsake Him??  How can it be that some of us can go to church every week and never hear a sermon?  Are we made of such superior stuff that we can live daily in a world consumed with sin and give, and give, and serve, and do...and never need a refill of Him??

I feel the need for time with Him.  I have such a hard time finding quiet moments.  With four children, I rarely find them at home, with church stuff I rarely find it at church..where do I find it....where do I find moments with the most important aspect of my being?  I need Him...desperately.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This Is So Cool......

Imagine my exuberance when we entered the old Hutchinson homestead at Stone Mtn and my eyes lit upon their chairs!!!!  They looked like an older, more distressed version of mine!!  How cool is that??  The chairs there had a deeper shade of blue and no varnish...BUT they were blue distressed with natural looking seats!!  I am loving it!  : D

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Steps

These might look pretty
but they are punishment in disguise....  :)

Biblical Misunderstanding...

One more funny...Jacob was sitting in the den one night and with a contemplating look says, "Mom, you know those people in the Bible who had leprosy...you know, the leprechauns?"....  LOL  :D

Quick Comeback.....

I don't remember exactly what was being exchanged verbally, but I jokingly told Malachi, while ruffling his hair, that I was going to make him write a paper on how much he loved me.....

He sounded just as funny as his daddy when he immediately replied, "I'll need a short piece of paper!"  :O    ...had himself a big laugh over that one... I have to admit, I found it pretty funny as well.  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. ~Henry David Thoreau

En route to the top of Stone Mtn
Love this picture...I could live here...

Stone Mountain State Park
The Summit

Day Trippin' .... Day Two ...A Little Hike

We decided to take one more vacation day ....sooooo, we finished up the farm chores and chose Stone Mountain State Park as our destination.  The kids were all pumped... :)  They really enjoyed the hike on the Parkway and were ready for another one.  We arrived at the Park and after studying the map, decided we would hike the stated "4.5 mile strenuous loop"....that was not an exaggeration folks.  Stone Mtn rises 600 ft from its base...you've gotta go up.  The hike up wasn't so bad...gradual incline with a nice wide path.  It was very well maintained.  We arrived at the summit and it was breathtaking.  Darren and I both expressed the desire to sit up there for a very long time and contemplate...but there wasn't a lot of contemplation to be had...with our four beautiful children walking around on a summit....that drops off abruptly into forest.  I nearly tossed my cookies every time one of them looked like they might trip and fall...and it goes without saying that Isaac could not move without my hawk eye pinning him in his tracks...I have a "slight" fear of heights....
That was only 1/4th of the loop..the easy 1/4th might I add. :)  From there, you wind around the side of the mountain and down...I mean fairly straight down...man made steps and lots of them...there were steps and steps and more steps...some were more natural looking...pretty...to distract you from the gentle, and then violent, trembling that is sneaking up your legs...
We got to the lower parking lot (the halfway point), filled the water bottles and were off again.  The kids were slightly less pumped at this stage...still going, just less pumped.  This part of the hike was pretty...no steps or very few ...  Isaac wanted to meander....every stump, log, and rock was a "seat".  He wanted to hit each tree with his "gun" (stick) ...and I like to take time to enjoy the walk as well as the next person...but...we were all getting a little tired and wondering what the rest of the trail would reveal.  Actually, inside we were trembling at the thoughts of hiking back up the mtn to the upper parking lot.  
We were able to stop by the old Hutchinson Homestead ...it was so beautiful.  I think I could live like that.  The home was nestled at the base of the mountain...surrounded by trees...Stone Mtn was the backdrop...birds flying overhead...small stream at the bottom of the hill...man...I was in love.  Wonder if I could get internet reception there???  :) 

It was time to continue hiking...Isaac was getting tired ...well, past tired...Darren was gracious enough to carry him on his back.  I didn't realize I was married to a pack mule...I will share the significance of that with you as the story unfolds.   
We hiked and hiked till we reached the few steps that led down to the falls.  They were pretty...not spectacular, but pretty.  We turned around and Malachi's fatigue was fairly obvious when he said, "What??  Is that all we can down those steps for?  Now we just have to go back up"  Part of me was much in agreement with him.  But that wasn't the worst part...we trudged up those FEW steps to discover that we had many, many, many more steps ahead of us.  Those man made steps leading to the top?  ~ Well, they were designed to punish you for every wicked deed you've ever committed ...and I must be very, very wicked because I suffered greatly.  :)  There were many casualties along the way...one little girl crying because she couldn't make it...a lady slumped over in defeat because the punishment was too great...I overhead a man exclaim that he "just wanted to be able to breathe"....it was scary stuff.  The kids did excellent...and the pack mule???  He carried Isaac up every step...God bless him.  I huffed beside Sarah and fear struck my heart when she uttered those horrendous words..."Mom, I wish I could be carried."  My heart clenched, my already labored breathing took on a more feeble beat, my palms sweated profusely...with as much of a calm demeanor as I could muster, I choked out..."It's okay sweetie...don't look at all the steps in front of you...just concentrate on the one you're on"...which is the mantra I had being screaming at myself since the billionth step.  Amazingly, we all made it to the top...and crawled to the vehicle.  Sweet, sweet vision of love...my hated van became. :)  As we were coming out of the forest, we passed the gentleman who said he "just wanted to be able to breathe" checking out the trail signs with his family...apparently they had only hiked down to the falls and back up...he was debating "The Loop"!  I nearly jogged over to tell him not to try it...but my legs would not take me and besides what's a little hike??  Oh yeah...a little hike....
Anyway, we totally enjoyed our day...my children turned out to be champion hikers...little soldiers who did not quit.  Sarah did do a face plant in the path once...she was so tired....and I carried her on my back for a while...then she carried me...just kidding.... :)
It was wonderful and I highly recommend the trip to anyone.  (Just make sure you wear your walking shoes)

Homesteading Carnival...

My "A Few Good....Chickens??" was featured in a Homesteading Carnival!  Follow this link to check it out:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Julian Price Park
Blue Ridge Parkway


"As fragrance abides in the flower
as reflection is within the mirror,
so does the Lord abide within you
Why search for Him without?"

Julian Price Park
Blue Ridge Parkway